CLAPTON YOUTH TEAMS QUIT AND MOVE TO HACKNEY WICK

Clapton’s under 18s in action in the Ingilby Cup semi-final, losing on penalties to Buckhurst Hill

Clapton is without any  youth system after both its current teams decided to quit the Old Spotted Dog after just one year.

Clapton U16 and U18 teams were resurrected last season, having been axed by chief executive Vince McBean the year before.

However, this time it’s the youth teams who have decided to depart, and will now play under the Hackney Wick FC name with games at Mabley Green in Hackney.

A statement from the coaches, to confirm the news, said: “With great regret the youth section will not be at Clapton next year and all our teams and officers will be leaving to another club.”

The coaches’ new set-up at Hackney Wick is being expanded and will feature boys’ U11s, U15s, U16s and U18s teams and a girls’ U17s team.

The statement added: “Speaking to the parents and most importantly the boys, who play and train week in, week out during the season, we all believe we should continue growing away from Clapton.”

In Clapton U18s’ only season they won one cup, reached another cup semi-final, and finished runners-up in the league, the Eastern Junior Alliance.

Some of the youth players stepped up to make their debut in the Tons’ first team. One of them, highly-rated full-back Max Henry, is believed to have been given the chance to join the first team squad.

Several of the Clapton youth team games attracted substantial crowds and the coaches added: “We would like to say thank you to the fans who were wonderful to us during matches, the boys loved it!  I don’t think the EJA has ever had that much fans at a league game.”

The ‘Clapton FC Youth’ Twitter account is already no more, having been renamed Hackney Wick Youth Academy today, but still features some highlights of the past season.

 

 

Over recent years Clapton has axed its reserve team, U18s, U17s, U16s, U15s, U14s and U13s, as well as its women’s football section, before the U18s and U16s’ brief revival.

The move means Clapton currently fields only a first team.

Clapton FC News would like to thank all the players who served the Tons so well last season. All the best for the future. 

We have approached the club for comment but they have a policy of refusing to speak to us.

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2017/8 – CLAPTON’S SEASON IN NUMBERS

vigo.jpg

1 – Lanre Vigo kickstarts our article by holding one finger up. Pic: https://www.piispanenossi.com/

 

Congratulations to the Tons playing staff, and thanks to the long-suffering fans, for another historic season in very trying circumstances.

2 – clubs, Southend Manor and Met Police, which banned Clapton’s away supporters due to fear of ‘pyro’ being used, despite a vote from the Ultras not to use them, which was rigidly adhered to.

3 – FA Cup rounds played, the first time we’ve won two FA Cup ties in a season since 1995/6.

4 – clubs who posted their highest ever attendance in their history when hosting the Tons this season – Hackney Wick, London Lions, Tower Hamlets and Wadham Lodge. 21 clubs recorded their season best crowd with the Tons in town.

5 – fifth season in a row the Tons finished in the top half of the table, for the first time since 1926/7.

6– articles on the official Clapton FC website relating to the team during the entire season, the most recent being on October 14th. The website went four months without any news update at all.

8 – Winning streak of games in the league from Enfield at home on October 3rd to Barkingside away on November 10th. The longest running streak since 1982/3.

10 – seasons of service that Jerry Jairette gave the club before being sacked, in his testimonial year, after criticising opponents who had banned fans. The club collected 36 in 17 games while Jerry was still there , at 2.12 points per game, and 27 points in 23 games afterwards, at 1.17 points per game,

11 – goalkeepers used , including outfield players Jerry Jairette and Nick Loblack, and including 6 keepers in 3 games.

18 – attendance at Clapton’s lowest gate of the season, the home game against Hackney Wick FC. The reverse fixture pulled in 785.

21 – goals scored by winger Jeffrey Cobblah in his first season at the club. Other top scorers were midfielder Steven Sardinha on 13, winger Aundre Spencer on 7 and defender Dylan Ebengo, striker Hassan Nalbant and midfielder Jay Morris all on 4,

53 – Average attendance at Clapton home league games this season, down from 388 for non-boycotted games the previous season.

63 – points gained this season, down from 92 in 2016/7 and 67 in 2015/6, but still the third best total since 1982/3.

64 – players used during the season as manager Jonny Fowell struggled to find a settled line-up.

186 – average attendance at Clapton away games.

273 – days the fans boycotted home games – the whole season. From the opening game on July 29th, through 20 league games and 7 cup games, to the final game on April 28th.

460 – the record amount, in pounds, that Clapton fans raised for the annual Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal

785 – the attendance at Clapton’s away game at Hackney Wick, the largest in the Essex Senior League since Jimmy Greaves played for Brentwood at Billericay Town in 1976.

CLAPTON FC FIXTURE UPDATE – CUTTING THROUGH THE CONFUSION

Supporters of top football clubs rightly get angry when games are switched for TV, sometimes with just weeks notice. However, at non-league level the situation can be, amazingly, even worse for fans.

Clapton FC had three games scheduled this week but with just a few days to go, all official sources had conflicting information on the dates, times, venues – or even if the games were happening at all.

Of the three opponents, two don’t have working websites and the other had no listing for the game. Clapton FC’s website, it turned out, had the wrong information for all three games.

Numerous attempts to get accurate information from the clubs went unanswered. However, thanks to a series of emails from the Essex Senior League we’ve finally received some official confirmation.

BASILDON UNITED (HOME)

The FA Full Time website had Clapton listed as playing Basildon United in the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy on Tuesday, December 6.

Manager Jonny Fowell even gave a full-page interview in this week’s Newham Recorder previewing the cup game against the high-flying Bees.

Confusingly, however, the Clapton FC website did not carry any mention of the game, and Basildon United do not have a website.

However, we can now confirm the tie has been postponed. Indeed it has already been rearranged for Tuesday, January 16th 2018.

MET POLICE FC (AWAY)

The situation over the London Senior Cup tie at Isthmian League Premier side Met Police FC was even more confusing.

The Clapton FC website had claimed the game was on Tuesday, December 5th. The FA Full Time website still claims it is taking place at AFC Wimbledon’s Kingsmeadow ground.

We can confirm, however, that the fixture is taking place on Wednesday, December 6th at Met Police FC’s Imber Court, kick-off 7.45pm.

However, two days before the game, Met Police FC have now said that away fans are NOT welcome. A Met club official said this was at the request of Clapton FC officials in collaboration with Metropolitan Police officers.

The Clapton Ultras blog has more details on this extraordinary decision. It is as yet unclear how this fan ban is going to be imposed.

SOUTHEND MANOR (AWAY)

Clapton’s next league game, away at Southend Manor, was listed on the Clapton website as having been switched to Old Spotted Dog with a 3.45pm kick-off. Southend Manor don’t have a functioning website this season.

However, we can confirmed the kick-off is a more traditional 3pm kick-off and it is still taking place at Southend Manor’s Southchurch Park.

FIXTURE LIST RECAP

As you can see, the Clapton FC website can’t be trusted with fixtures. Several fans have gone to the wrong venue on the basis of their duff information.
So where best for fixtures? CFC News has a fixture list here – but in fairness the Clapton Ultras’ website’s fixture list is the most reliable of all.
To recap, however, these are the fixtures for the rest of 2017…
  • 06/12 7.45pm Met Police v Clapton (London Senior Cup)
  • 09/12 3.00pm Southend Manor v Clapton
  • 16/12 3.00pm Clapton v Takeley
  • 23/12 3.00pm West Essex v Clapton
NOTE: We tweeted and emailed Clapton FC on numerous occasions regarding the fixtures and they did not reply – in line with their official policy not to communicate with us. However, they did correct the three inaccurate fixtures on their website on Friday in response, for which we are thankful.

ANDRE THOMAS PICKS HIS CLAPTON XI AS TONS LEGEND PAYS EMOTIONAL FAREWELL

Andre Thomas said farewell to the Clapton fans on an emotional night at the Mile End Stadium.

He’s been coach, he’s been assistant manager, he’s been caretaker manager, but for one night only Andre also became the Ultras’ capo, leading some of the songs himself.

On the pitch, the Tons bounced back from going 1-0 down to a Sporting Bengal side who often prove to be a thorn in our side.

Ryan Reed scored the first two, including the pearler of a free-kick below, before Jeffrey Cobblah sealed the points with perhaps an even lovelier run and shot.

So club legend Andre departed with a 3-1 win, leaving the Tons in sixth place, and in the celebrations afterwards he turned the tables by singing one of the Ultras’ songs back at them.

We couldn’t let him leave us without asking him to compile his best ever Clapton XI from his two years at the club.

So, as Andre jumps on the District Line to Upney, to take up the assistant manager’s job with ambitious Bostik League side Barking, here’s his team in a 3-4-1-2 formation.

Goalkeeper

It’s a position that we have always had issues filling after Pape Diagne.

As you know, “there’s only one king Pepe, he keeps the ball out the netty,” but recently we’ve been blessed with the talents of Richie Robins, Emmanuel Olajide, Ignas Budvytis and Mark Kavanagh.

Even when Pape was around we had Alex Biddle and Yakup Seyer who also make credible bids.

However the keeper I’m going to go with is a leader, who talks as much as me, has great reactions, good feet, great kicking and in my opinion is a complete GK who is always trying to get better.

My goalkeeper is Emmanuel Olajide.

Right-sided centre-back

In a back three I’ve gone for someone who’s comfortable playing in a few positions just in case we need to change it during the game.

There’s other natural centre-backs I could have gone with but I know that this guy would give me his all then go get some from the opposition and then give me that too.

He’ll probably complain about playing here telling me this isn’t his position but he’ll stop sulking as soon as the whistle has blown and probably end up getting the Man of The Match Award.

It was a flip of the coin between he and Lanre Vigo but my right-sided centre-back is Kristian Haighton.

Centre back

So many names come to mind. I think of Euan Taylor-Reid, the cup final penalty specialist; Idu Bogdan, who is as hard as a rock; Pete Moore, the coach on the pitch who always talks; Quincy Egbejale, legs long enough to cover the back four; Eamon Payne, goalscoring centre-back; Jamie Lyndon, Mr No Nonsense.

There’s also Zach Miller, Jesse Mckenzie, Nick Loblack, Hussain Jaffa and even Freddie Morris who wouldn’t wanna play there but could.

However, I’ve gone with a centre back who is strong, fast, aggressive, technically sound, understands what I require and he’s a funny guy.

Great character in the dressing room, always has his teammates backs and is the first one swinging his handbag. I’m going with Dylan Ebengo.

Left-sided centre-back

As I said earlier, in a back three I’ve gone for someone who’s comfortable playing in a few positions just in case we need to change it during the game.

On this side I’ve gone with a player who I feel can play this position as I’ve simply not seen a man take him on one-on-one and beat him. That will always give the team confidence.

Again Pete Moore, Francis Best-Ebanks and Yusuf Bello make solid claims as they’re all naturally left footed, strong and good defenders.

However, I’ve gone with the super impressive, super hero Tayo Awoderu. He’ll have to come training though, lol.

Central midfielders x 2

I think the two midfield positions, along with the two forwards, will be the hardest decision.
With the options available to me, it’s very difficult.

Steven Sardinha, Freddie Morris, Bradley Joseph, Paul Oshin, Geoff Ocran, Paul Barry, Reece Hewitt, Louis Rene, Scott Hill, Siao Blackwood and JoJo DeGraft are a few of the many midfield generals I’ve worked with, all packed with experience, quality, pace, power, packed with lungs of a V8 engine, skill, trickery, goals and unreal technique.

The only reason I’ve selected these two to be the midfielders holding for me is because they’ve got everything I’ve listed above and they both ‘get it’. I’m not saying the rest don’t because they definitely do.

The reason they do is because of the levels these two midfielders have set.
When the going gets tough I want someone who’ll put their body on the line, even if it means broken limbs.

In addition to that if we need a 90th minute goal and we have a free kick I wanna make sure he’s on them.

The two midfielders I’ve gone with are the Clapton legends Jerry Jairette and James Briggs.

Left-wing (back)

This player has improved so so much, was under the radar.

He dedicated himself to his craft and got fit and then caused havoc for opposition full backs.

He’s got two great feet, skills in abundance, great first touch and beautiful hair.

Another set piece specialist with the world going crazy for Messi and CR7, I’m glad to have RR7.

To play on the left wing is Ryan Reed.

Centre attacking midfield

Again many, many players who can play in this role. Raphael Duyile who is technically sublime as well as very versatile and intelligent was also an option.

So was Tom ‘goal machine’ Webb and even Stefan Nielsen.

But it’s got to go to a player that had Tons from the 2014-15 season in awe.

I won’t ever forget my first pre-season game when we played a Harold Hill XI and he had never played with these guys.

He had never played any level higher than this one and was playing with the likes of Billy Wise (who actually ran this guy very close for the vote), James Briggs, Shomari Barnwell, Troy Ricketts and JoJo Degraft yet looked superb, like he had been there for years and knew how to create magic.

Funnily enough he has now been here for 3 seasons and he does know how to create magic. He gets it from his hat.

Playing in the CAM role is Nathan Cook.

Right-wing (back)

Khadz Campbell, Aundre Spencer, Johnny Ashman, Raphael Duyile, Paul Barry and Jeffrey Cobblah. Players that come to mind when I think of stars that can play on that right hand side.

I’ve gone with a guy whose name rings bells but only rang the bells of his college colleagues before this.

He came to the club and played over 40 games in his first season only being on the bench once and this was due to his quality on the pitch, his attitude and attendance to training and the game, his hunger to fight off all that tried to take his spot and he’s done it once more.

To play on the right is none other than Johnny Ashman.

Centre forwards x 2

Clapton have been blessed with tremendous forwards and I’ve been lucky to work with the likes of Fahad Nyanja, Warren Mfula, Jay Knight, Ike Nzurba, Miles Hunter, Roddy Lemba, Sherwin Stanley, Tony Cookey and Ajani Domingo-Carrington to name a few.

However, I’ve gone with one of the most natural finishers I’ve worked with.

Top top forwards score with both feet and their head, this guy is able to do that and also score with his junk.

One of my two centre forwards is Jay Knight.

The reason I’ve selected the second guy is because for me he epitomises what a striker should be for me.

Hard-working, relentless, gives 100% effort for his team and the shirt he wears.

He’s a nightmare when you’re against him but a dream when he’s on your team.

I’ve seen him get into the heads of opposition players warming up on the side, he already gains the edge on them before they even get subbed on.

I call him my Non-League Diego Costa.

My forward to join Jay is none other than Mr Warren Mfula.

CLAPTON FC FIRST TEAM COACH QUITS: ‘IT WAS SUCH A HARD DECISION’

Ray Bartlett has stepped down from his role as coach at Clapton

Ray Bartlett has quit as Clapton FC’s first team coach after two years at the club.

Former Takeley coach Ray unearthed many star players for the Tons, bringing in Ryan Reed, Steven Sardinha, Jay Knight, Aundre Spencer, Quincy Egbajale, Yusuf Bello, Jay Morris, Scott Hill, Mark Kavanagh, Nick Loblack, Josh Flynn and Mustafa Kahie among others.

However, Ray is now taking time out from football, meaning the Clapton management team is a trio with Jonny Fowell as manager, Andre Thomas as assistant, and Colin Reid as head coach. 

His decision to quit adds to the dark clouds hanging over the Clapton, with the attempt by the chief executive Vince McBean to liquidate the Old Spotted Dog ground, the subsequent fans’ boycott, and a disappointing start to the season.

In a message to the squad today, seen by CFC News, Ray wrote: “Guys I just wanted to let you know that I’m taking time out of football.

“Not sure whether I’ll be back in football or not, be that at Clapton or another club.

“There’s too many problems and politics going on behind the scenes, nothing is changing and it will start effecting things on the pitch soon.

“I feel really bad leaving Dre to do this all on his own, so he needs you guys to back and support him more than ever.

“I’ll never forget what a great season we had together last year and the memories that come with that.

“Just make sure you do everything the Clapton way and give 110% for Dre and the supporters.”

Speaking about his decision to quit, Ray told CFC News: “I’m so sad to be leaving, it was such a hard decision.

“The time and effort me and Dre have put into this club over the past year and a half feels like a full-time job.”

Ray praised Clapton assistant manager Andre Thomas as ‘like a brother’, which made his decision to quit even harder.

He said: “Dre has been like a brother to me, we clicked the first time we met. I was also very close with Mike Walther and when he asked me to join I could never say no.

“Which is why it makes it very hard to leave Clapton.”

Everyone at CFC News wishes Ray well and offers thanks for his magnificent efforts at the club, including helping propel the Tons to last season’s runners-up spot.

ELEVEN INS AND OUTS AS CLAPTON LOOK TO KICKSTART LEAGUE CAMPAIGN

Jonny Fowell has brought in Colin Reid as head coach

Manager Jon Fowell has added four new players and seen seven depart in recent weeks as Clapton look to get their Essex Senior League campaign back on track.

The Tons sit in seventeenth spot, just one place above relegation zone, after an iffy start to the league campaign, though enjoyed two great wins in the FA Cup, including against higher level Norwich United.

Fowell has also appointed former Macclesfield Town and Bishops Stortford coach Colin Reid as his new head coach, alongside assistant manager Andre Thomas and Ray Bartlett, the first team coach.

Having drawn a blank in front of goal in four of the nine matches this season, much of the player changes have been up front.

As the Tons look for their first home win of the season against Burnham Ramblers on Saturday, here we run through the changes since our last article on arrivals and departures.

 

Outs

Attacking midfielder Raphael Duyile, a near ever-present since returning to the club last season, has joined Essex Senior League rivals Barkingside. Rafa scored once this season and three times last but now reunites with former Clapton manager Mike Walther and has already played twice for the ‘Side.

Striker Craig Heskey has rejoined his former club Burnham Ramblers, for whom he scored 4 in 10 games at the end of last season. What are the odds on a goal on his return to the Old Spotted Dog on Saturday? Heskey started just one game in his second spell at Clapton plus two sub appearances.

Another striker Anton Stephenson also departs after taking the assistant manager’s job at Barking. He reunites with Justin Gardner, with whom he worked at Tower Hamlets. Stephenson started one game – the FA Cup tie at FC Clacton where he scored the only goal – and made two sub appearances. He appears to have also signed as a player for Redbridge.

Grafting midfielder Dean Bouho, pacy wideman Mustafa Kahie, composed centre-back Jordan Meikle and young striker Caiden Imbert-Thomas have also left the club after just 1 start and 2 sub appearances between them this season.

Ins

Greg Akpele made his Clapton debut in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat against Needham Market after signing from Non-League Chance. Announcing the signing, Fowell said attacker Akpele “will be a sensation at this level.”

Akpele caught the eye of higher level clubs after scoring 11 goals in the Essex Senior League for Basildon United four seasons ago. After trials with professional clubs, including Leyton Orient, Dagenham & Redbridge, he then went on to short spells at Braintree Town, Hampton & Richmond. Kingstonian, Cheshunt, VCD Athletic, Barkingside and Burnham Ramblers. Last season he was at Romford in the Isthmian North, where he bagged 6 goals.

Tall striker Ikem Odeh enjoyed a dream debut for the Tons, scoring on his debut against Norwich United. Starting as a youth at St Albans City, he’s since played for Cockfosters and Berkhamsted, in the Spartan South Midlands League, the same level as the ESL, scoring 2 in 30 appearances,

Also newly registered are Nick LoBlack, a former Haringey & Waltham Development defender, and former Ilford player Scott Hill.

TONS HANDED HOME TIE AGAINST NEEDHAM MARKET IN FA CUP

After beating Norwich United 2-0 on Saturday, Clapton have been drawn at home to Needham Market of the Isthmian League Premier Division in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round, due to be played on Saturday 2nd September.

The Marketmen currently sit 11th in the Bostik Premier with 4 points from 3 games. Last season they finished 9th – just 3 points off the Play-Offs to be promoted to the National League South.

As we reported yesterday, it is the first time since the 2005/06 season The Tons have reached the First Qualifying Round. However, as members of Isthmian League Division 2 at the time, Clapton hadn’t had to play in the Extra Preliminary Qualifying Round as they do now. We succumbed 4-2 away to Cogenhoe United that season.

If Clapton beat Needham Market, it will be the first time The Tons have reached the 2nd Qualifying Round since the 1998/99 season when we lost 1-0 at home to Purfleet. Winning will mean £3,000 in prize money, on top of the £3,425 already awarded from the FA Prize Fund for winning in the Extra Preliminary and Preliminary Qualifying rounds.